Instagram has changed our lives in so many ways — from how we connect and communicate, to the way we consume content. But while it's easy enough to follow other people who are working full-time as social media managers or influencers, what if you want to work with a company that isn't yet famous?
Well, there is still hope! By developing your own personal brand, you can start building up a following on Instagram without having to worry about any of the hard stuff like finding customers, managing marketing budgets, etc., because all of those things are handled by someone else. All you have to focus on is making great photos and interacting with others online. And once you've built up some momentum, you'll be able to approach companies directly for potential partnerships. Here’s everything you need to know...
The easiest way to get started selling products and services through Instagram is to develop a relationship with local business owners. If you're based in Los Angeles but live in San Diego, why not reach out to restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, spas, salons, car washes, grocery stores, farmers' markets, hardware stores, shoe repair places, dry cleaners, nail studios, bike rentals, laundromats, bookstores, vintage clothing retailers, pet sitters, flower delivery service providers, fitness centers, interior decorators, yoga instructors, hair stylists, tattoo artists, massage therapists, dentists, florist shop, art galleries, taxidermists, auto body repairs, travel agencies, daycare facilities, gardeners, landscapers, home improvement contractors, painters, construction sites, sandwich makers, ice cream vendors, pizza parlors, car dealerships, barbershops, bakeries, pharmacies, tanning beds, dry cleaners, movie theaters, gyms, furniture rental shops, jewelry designers, surfboard manufacturers, dog walkers, campgrounds, event coordinators, antique sellers, makeup counters, tailoring boutiques, custom t-shirt printers, toy stores, thrift stores, photo labs, real estate agents, game developers, web design firms, fashion houses, golf courses, bicycle repair shops, gift card distribution outlets, video stores, food trucks, wedding planners, bed & breakfast innkeepers, party planning consultants, photographers, prop styling professionals, automotive restoration specialists, audio visual equipment rental companies, luggage repair shops, home security camera distributors, and more.
Once you identify a region where you'd love to operate (e.g. Southern California), search on Instagram using hashtags specific to your area. Once you find accounts belonging to local businesses, send them direct messages asking if they would consider partnering with you. They may already have their own social media management team, however, which means they will probably pass along your message to them. It never hurts to try though.
If you haven't received a response after sending multiple DMs over several weeks, don't take this personally. Brands simply aren't looking at every account on Instagram. Instead, look for brands whose profiles include geotargeted tags. For instance, when searching "Los Angeles," you should see pages specifically tagged #LA. Similarly, "San Francisco" might result in pages marked #SF. When browsing hashtag searches on Instagram Search Bar, type in whatever geographic location you're interested in learning more information about. A good place to begin is searching "#coffee."
You can also use Instagram discovery tools such as Hashtagify.me and Discoverly to help you figure out whether certain types of brands are worth reaching out to.
There are two main reasons why brands won't respond to DM inquiries: either they just don't care or they're overwhelmed with requests. Either option is fine since you can always keep trying until you receive a positive answer. Even if you don't hear back straight away, don't give up! Most big brands have hundreds of accounts on Instagram and countless numbers of emails sent daily. Just remember to remain polite throughout the process. There are no guarantees that they will even read your email/DM, let alone reply.
When contacting a brand for a possible partnership, the first thing to think about is why exactly you want to partner with them. Is it because you genuinely believe that product could benefit consumers? Or is it because you want to make money off of advertising space or sponsored posts? Whatever the reason, it needs to align with the overall goals of both parties involved.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before approaching a brand :
Are fans going to buy this new product because they trust me to recommend it? Are they buying it because I'm featuring it in pictures? Do they feel compelled to purchase it because it looks cool or trendy? Does it improve their life in some way?
Do users come across my post organically or scroll past it? Would they ever click on a link leading to the official website for said product? What percentage of clicks convert into sales? How much time did readers spend reading my descriptions?
Am I representing my page accurately? Am I communicating clearly? Have I included necessary details? Has the language been optimized? Did I spellcheck? Was grammar checked? Will viewers understand what they're seeing?
After answering each question above, decide whether you want to pursue this opportunity further. If yes, proceed to step 2. If no, move onto step 3.
Step 1: Researching the brand's current audience
In order to determine whether or not you're targeting the right audience for this particular brand, research its existing fanbase. This includes researching how often users engage with their profile and how long they typically stay engaged with the brand's accounts. In addition, you can analyze user data collected from third-party apps used to measure engagement on Instagram.
To access this info, go to the analytics section within your Instagram profile settings. Then, select "Data tab" under the "Overview" dropdown menu. From here, you can view information regarding total impressions, average reels per week, number of likes, comments and shares. You can also check out insights related to interaction history, demographics and behavior patterns. The best part is that you can export reports containing any of the metrics listed above.
Next, browse relevant pages on Instagram to learn more about the brand itself. Pay attention to popular captions, story titles and featured images. Look for clues about what makes this brand unique and appealing to its followers. Keep track of hashtags mentioned most frequently, especially ones associated with the category of products being promoted. Take note of common themes present among branded mentions. These might reveal key topics relating to consumer interests, concerns or opinions.
Step 2: Creating compelling copy
Now that you've identified your target market, it's time to craft compelling copy. Think of the voice you wish to project as your brand persona. Try writing in simple, conversational tone whenever possible. Use descriptive words and phrases rather than vague nouns. Write short sentences instead of paragraphs. Avoid industry jargon and overly complicated explanations. Be sure to proofread thoroughly and pay special attention to spelling, punctuation and capitalization.
Step 3: Pitching your idea
Before pitching anything, it helps to establish clear objectives. Ask yourself what you really expect from partnering with this brand. Is it to gain exposure and increase follower count? To sell merchandise? To promote a new product launch? Perhaps you plan to earn revenue via ads placed around your content? Determine upfront what you intend to accomplish from partnering with this particular brand. Also decide whether or not you wish to retain ownership of your content.
Now, write a concise description outlining how your brand benefits from collaborating with this brand. Explain how you will achieve success for everyone involved. Focus heavily on results and explain how this concept will positively impact both sides. Make mention of the problems you aim to solve and offer solutions. Finally, describe how your ideas differ from similar competitors. Afterward, compare your pitch against the guidelines laid out by Instagram to ensure compliance.
Finally, hit Send and wait patiently for a reply. Remember -- patience pays off. While there's no guarantee that your request will be granted, it never hurts to try.
Pitches sent via DM usually end up getting ignored unless the sender receives a prompt response. However, sometimes brands will choose to ignore pitches altogether. So, it's important to know the proper etiquette when drafting your proposal. Always keep the spirit of collaboration foremost in mind.
Keep these tips in mind when crafting your pitch:
Write in complete sentences and avoid abbreviations. Abbreviated terms tend to confuse editors and cause delays.
Be honest and straightforward. Don't exaggerate or lie about your achievements. Tell only truthfully what you accomplished.
Don't beg. No one wants to work with losers.
Treat the person receiving your pitch respectfully. Mention how appreciative you are of his support and expertise.
Use grammatically correct sentence structure. Spellchecks exist for a reason.
Proofread extensively. Your pitch must convey professionalism.
Have faith in your product. Brand partners provide credibility and confidence.
If you're an aspiring social media personality and want to go beyond the likes-counts-game, it's time for some serious thinking about how you might work together with brands in order to create a sustainable future as an online celebrity.
The key is simple -- if you have something that other people want or need, why not sell it to them? If you've got followers who love what you share on Instagram, they'll be happy to hear from brands too – and those brands will be keen to promote their products in return. So get started! Here are our tips...
Brands don't usually send out requests like this, so keep things formal. It may seem weird at first but once you submit your request, you should expect a response within two weeks. The letter needs to include information such as your name, bio, website URL, current number of followers/following, etc., plus any relevant links (such as Twitter handle) where possible. Make sure to mention how many posts you would like to produce over a period of several months.
Don’t forget to add photos of yourself alongside your product shots, or even images showing off your blog layouts. Brands often use stock photographs which means there are hundreds available for free via Unsplash or Pixabay. Use these sites to help give your pitch more visual appeal.
A good tip when approaching brands is to take inspiration from existing partnerships between celebrities and brands, and ask questions related to the goals of both parties involved. For example, I asked L'Oréal UK whether they wanted to sponsor my next giveaway and offered to run promotions across my platforms, including promoting their new range exclusively on my YouTube channel. They were very gracious in saying yes.
You can also find out more about working with different types of brands on the official accounts of various beauty companies, fashion labels, cosmetics giants and others. You could always try contacting individual managers instead of sending a generic email through the company itself. These individuals tend to respond much quicker than the rest of the team.
Make sure to follow all the usual rules for posting content on instagram, and consider adding hashtags specific to each brand. This way, users searching for the hashtag #MoodyOrganicMilk will see only Moody Organic Milk sponsored posts. In addition, be aware that most major retailers won't allow their products to appear in conjunction with competing brands unless you specifically ask permission to run a campaign.
When brainstorming ideas, think outside the box. Some great ways to come up with fresh concepts include researching trending topics related to either the brand or the niche in question, going into Google Trends and seeing what else has been searched recently, or simply using keywords that customers frequently type into search engines. Think of witty puns or clever quips that relate directly to whatever your topic happens to be.
As far as aesthetics go, many successful campaigns involve mixing and matching colors, fonts and imagery. And since Instagram allows multiple pictures per story, take advantage of this feature to show off your best angles.
Finally, remember that while users generally aren't opposed to receiving promotional messages on social media, they definitely prefer organic marketing efforts over paid ones. Take care not to spam users.
There are three main methods of creating a branded account on Instagram. One involves using separate handles entirely, another uses a single profile page with alternative usernames, and a third combines the two approaches. Which option works best for you depends largely upon how comfortable you feel sharing personal details publicly. We recommend trying them all before settling down permanently.
In terms of strategy, here's how we'd suggest splitting up responsibilities: Let's say you decide to create two profiles under the same username, "Kate." Your primary profile (profile picture) shows up automatically whenever someone searches for you, and contains general info about you and your business. Meanwhile, your secondary profile (which appears below your primary profile photo) should contain information tailored towards particular audiences. That way, people looking for Kate + Cosmetics will primarily encounter her makeup recommendations rather than random articles she wrote last week.
Let's break it down further: Profile 1 (the primary one) should highlight your expertise and experience, while profile 2 (the secondary one) should focus on your passion and hobbies. Both profiles should link back to each other, however — and ideally display complementary aesthetic styles.
For instance, let's say you decided to set up two completely separate profiles, one called "Professional Expert," and one called "Stylish Girl Next Door" (or something similar). On Professional Expert, you should upload professional headshots and resume pics, along with a few well-written paragraphs highlighting your qualifications and areas of specialization. Then, on Stylish Girl Next Door, upload pictures that emphasize your fun side and draw attention away from your credentials. There should be no overlap whatsoever between the two. You shouldn't just throw anything on there because it sounds cute.
Keep in mind that even though certain aspects of the above guidelines may vary depending on your audience, the overall goal remains the same.
It's important to note that Instagram doesn't offer the ability to schedule posts ahead of time, unlike its sister apps Facebook and Snapchat. While this restriction isn't ideal for everyone, it gives brands greater control over their timeline.
Another common mistake newbie creators commonly make is forgetting to tag themselves in uploaded posts. As long as the image includes a recognizable face, tagging yourself ensures that viewers know whose voice they're listening to.
This method takes advantage of the fact that Instagram limits users to 10 stories per day. By uploading five themed stories, and making sure to change each section every 24 hours, you can effectively trick the app into displaying two posts simultaneously. Simply put, this requires planning ahead and setting aside enough time to execute everything properly.
To save time, consider outsourcing certain tasks to freelancers. To wit, you should hire a graphic designer to design your logo, a writer to draft your copy and a photographer to shoot your visuals. Once you begin running ads, you can easily scale up production based on demand.
Once you start getting high follower numbers, you'll quickly discover that managing your own editorial calendar becomes increasingly difficult. Thankfully, there's an easy solution for this problem: Hootsuite. This platform makes it possible to manage multiple social networks simultaneously, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, among others.
Instagram is full of lifestyle influencers who have their personal branding in place and are able to offer companies access to their followers through sponsored posts and promotions.
But what if you'd really like to work with an established brand or even a big corporation? How would you go about getting that kind of partnership going? If you're not super well-known yet, there's no shame in approaching the right people at the start—you just need to know how to pitch yourself for consideration. Here’s everything you should consider when trying to secure a business partnership with any given brand.
It all starts with knowing exactly where you want to be positioned within the industry. What niche are you looking to occupy? Are you hoping to make it as a beauty vlogger, food blogger, fitness trainer, fashion model, etc.? Once you've got a clear vision of what type of content you want to share, find out which hashtags they use (and don't). This will help you determine whether or not they'll be interested in partnering up with you. Do some research into their social channels and see if they post regularly using those specific tags. Then reach out!
If you're working on building your online presence, remember to always keep in mind the tone and voice of your target audience/niche. Your personality plays a huge role here — if you come across as too salesy, your message might end up lost among the noise. When sending over your proposal ideas, try to think creatively instead of straight off a script. Think outside the box, and show them why you're different from other potential partners. Most importantly, stay true to yourself while still being respectful.
Once the conversation has started, let them know that you're willing to provide quality content but also understand that this isn't something that happens overnight. They may require additional time to decide on your idea before giving a final "yes" to proceed. Even though many partnerships fall apart after the first few attempts due to miscommunication, persistence pays off. And once you've been featured alongside a particular brand, it becomes much easier to strike up similar deals with others down the road. So stick around...it could pay off later.
In order to properly pitch a brand, you must first establish credibility. That means showing a genuine interest in helping further promote their products and services. It's important to give credit where it's due, so showcase past success stories rather than simply spamming your followers with endless advertisements. Take photos that reflect the theme of the brand without making it look overly staged. For example, if the brand sells makeup, wear foundation matching their product line. Posting shots with friends won't cut it either. Find someone who represents the same demographic as yours, and take pictures together. Donate generously to charitable causes whenever possible. The more authentic and relatable you appear, the better chance you have at scoring a deal.
You may also choose to ask for feedback from users regarding certain aspects of your account. A lot of times, brands will request permission to repost your images along with their text ads. Make sure you aren't violating copyrights and follow copyright laws accordingly. Remember that every photo posted counts toward your follower count. By posting consistently, you create a strong bond between both parties, allowing them to view your activity and gain trust.
The easiest way to land a sponsorship is to send over links to relevant articles or blog posts you've written. Try to include stats and facts based on user experience, including statistics related to engagement rates, likes, comments, shares, etc. In exchange, you will receive compensation for each click made via that link. These numbers vary depending on the platform and ad network used, but generally speaking, expect anywhere from $0-$100 per thousand impressions (CPM) paid directly to you for clicks generated by your promoted post. While it's tempting to jump for the highest bidder, it's best to negotiate with multiple advertisers until you find the perfect fit.
Remember that you shouldn't solely rely on branded accounts to deliver targeted traffic to your site. Always develop original content tailored specifically towards your audience.
Now that we've covered the basics of pitching a brand, let's talk about actually landing that partnership. There are several factors to consider when considering such an agreement. First, it's important to evaluate the ROI of a partnership versus spending money on advertising elsewhere, especially since most brands already spend millions annually on traditional media channels. Second, it's crucial to ensure that the investment makes sense. Is the campaign reaching its intended audience? Does the placement and promotion align with the goals of said brand? Thirdly, does the relationship feel worthwhile? Will it bring long-term value to the consumer? Finally, you should inquire about the advertiser's expectations for future engagements. You never know unless you ask.
While a sponsored post doesn't necessarily guarantee increased revenue, having a significant following gives you leverage when negotiating terms. Brands typically prefer to work with individuals who generate high levels of organic growth and engage with consumers year round. Consider creating new material based on your interactions with customers, and submit it to platforms like Snapchat Discover. It's important to note that while you're gaining valuable insights from your audience, you should maintain sole ownership of your content.
As far as fees go, you should expect to receive payment upon completion of your project. Some sponsorships only involve paying direct commissions, meaning that you won't receive anything upfront. However, it's worth mentioning that many popular celebrities often charge a flat rate for their services because their popularity allows them to demand higher salaries. Keep in mind that the price tag of a celebrity endorsement varies greatly depending on the individual.
For instance, Taylor Swift charges her fans $29.99 per song, but she recently reduced her prices due to backlash from millennials disappointed by her decision. Other artists like Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Coldplay, and Madonna have set their fair market value at approximately $10 million dollars per single appearance, although this number fluctuates significantly according to each artist's reputation and fame level.
When dealing with a major corporation, things tend to run smoother. Companies usually hire third party agencies to handle the logistics of launching campaigns and managing budgets. As a result, you probably won't encounter issues with fees or royalties until production begins. But regardless of the size of the client, it's essential to remain professional throughout negotiations. Show respect for the people behind the brand, and always communicate effectively. Be flexible enough to change plans midstream if necessary. Also, avoid asking for special treatment for promotional purposes. No matter how great your connection is, everyone involved needs to focus on producing good content.
Finally, remember that your goal remains unchanged during negotiations. Ultimately, your goal is to attract viewers to watch your videos, read your blog, subscribe to your channel, buy your merchandise, etc., and that's why you partnered up with the brand in the first place. Now, all you have to worry about is crafting compelling copy that resonates with audiences.
There's nothing wrong with starting small to build momentum and awareness. After all, it takes years to cultivate a successful career in the spotlight, and sometimes it helps to begin with smaller endorsements. The key is to find a balance between showcasing your skills and acting as a representative for a larger entity. To stand out amongst thousands of Instagrammer hopefuls, make sure your style matches the image of the brand itself.
Before choosing a brand to represent, you should carefully analyze their current marketing strategy. Ask questions like "What is our primary objective?" and "Who are our competitors?" Knowing what motivates their decisions can be extremely helpful in predicting what works best for you. With that knowledge under your belt, you can tailor your pitches to meet their requirements.
Some brands may require exclusivity agreements, preventing you from promoting competing brands directly against theirs. Others may want to distribute exclusive coupons exclusively available to subscribers. Still others may seek to control distribution in order to prevent unauthorized copies from leaking onto the internet. Whatever the case may be, be prepared to compromise and negotiate creative solutions. Sometimes, it's okay to bend the rules a little bit to accommodate requests from clients whose intentions aren't malicious. Just be mindful of how your actions affect your overall standing.
Your portfolio serves as a representation of your ability, skill, and expertise. Therefore, it's imperative to present yourself confidently and professionally. Never underestimate the power of editing. Before uploading your edits, check for spelling errors, grammar mistakes, punctuation problems, missing commas, capitalization errors, incorrect word usage, poor sentence structure, typos, duplicate words, and unnecessary repetition. All of these elements contribute to the overall professionalism of your page.
Become CEO of your own lead generation software company, just follow our battle-tested guidelines and rake in the profits.